A designated taxi fleet for transporting Covid-19 patients to and from seven designated clinics in Hong Kong will begin operations on Friday, amid local media reports of compulsory city-wide testing.

The fleet, with around 300 taxis, will be free of charge and will be open for online bookings from 7 a.m. on Friday via the designatedtaxihk.com website.

Designated taxi for Covid-19 patients
A simulated photo of a taxi designated for transporting Covid-19 patients with a specific label that reads “designated for anti-epidemic, appointment needed.” Photo: GovHK.

Patients can also call 3693 4770 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day from Friday onwards to make a booking. The fleet will only transport those who have already made a booking with one of the city’s seven designated clinics for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms.

A spokesperson from the Transport and Housing Bureau said in a press statement published on Wednesday that drivers in the fleet will have to wear protective equipment, conduct daily disinfection of the compartments, and undergo daily tests before providing services.

Only drivers who tested negative will be allowed to provide services, and passengers can only sit at the back seat of the taxis.

specific label on designated taxi for Covid-19 patients
Specific label on designated taxi for Covid-19 patients that reads “designated for anti-epidemic, appointment needed.” Photo: GovHK.

“The Government thanks the taxi industry for organising the designated fleet service on short notice to provide safe and reliable point-to-point transport services for patients in this difficult time,” the statement read.

Reports of city-wide compulsory testing

Local media also reported that there may be compulsory testing rolled out across the city, though there were conflicting reports over whether the government had made a decision yet.

Yuen Long Lockdown
File photo: GovHK.

Headline Daily and HK01 cited sources as saying that the government already had plans to conduct mandatory testing for all Hong Kong residents from March.

Both articles said that residents will be divided using their Hong Kong identity card numbers, and that each person will undergo three tests. Test specimens may also be sent to Shenzhen for analysis due to the limited testing capacity in Hong Kong, the outlets reported.

Ming Pao reported that the government was still studying the proposal, suggested by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. The article also cited sources staying that the suggestions were “tentative,” and “lacked details for execution.”

The reports came as the city struggles with the fifth wave of Covid-19. As of Wednesday, the city has recorded 30,955 infections and 227 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.